Divorce is not easy, and the process ahead presents challenges. Dividing financial wealth and debts often sends emotions and frustrations soaring.
Under New Jersey law, the court may step in and split the marital property in a specific way. Understanding the basics of this process may help in preparing for it.
Is equitable the same thing as equal?
When the statute talks about the court divvying marital property equitably, it may sound like it will do so equally. However, this is not the case. The equitable division remains within the purview of the judge’s determination of what seems fair.
What factors does a judge review?
The judge considers several factors when deciding a fair split. One aspect is how much individual property each spouse owns. Anything that a spouse went into the marriage owning that remains in that spouse’s name stays untouched during the divorce. If one spouse has significantly more separate property, the judge may award that spouse less of the marital pot. Other factors considered include:
- How much income each spouse earns
- The earning potential of an unemployed spouse
- Whether an unemployed spouse remained home to raise children and support the other’s career
- If one spouse contributed to the demise of the relationship more than the other
Can couples compromise before a judge decides?
One way a couple can maintain control of who gets what is by sitting down outside of the courtroom. Mediation may prove beneficial to a couple to compromise on financial division. It is important to remember that a split of assets also means a similar debt division. Unless a debt existed before marriage, each spouse receives a proportionate share in divorce.
Fairness is at the forefront of the court when it decides on an equitable divide. Since a couple may not agree, reaching a compromise outside the courtroom may prove significantly more beneficial.